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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | April 29, 2022

Kenny Pickett's college football stats, highlights and records

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One of the breakout stars of the 2021 college football season was Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, who as a fifth-year senior threw for 42 touchdowns — three more than his total from his first four seasons combined — en route to finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Pickett entered the 2022 NFL draft as one of the top quarterback prospects available. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the first round with the 20th pick. He was the only quarterback taken in the first round:

Here's everything you need to know about Kenny Pickett's college career.

The vitals on Kenny Pickett

Schools: Pittsburgh
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-3
Weight: 220 pounds
Years active: 2017-21

Here are Kenny Pickett's career passing stats in college. You may need to scroll to the right to view the complete table.

Year games completions attempts comp. % Yards Y/A TD int rating
2017 4 39 66 59.1 509 7.7 1 1 125.8
2018 14 180 310 58.1 1,969 6.4 12 6 120.3
2019 12 289 469 61.6 3,098 6.6 13 9 122.4
2020 9 203 332 61.1 2,408 7.3 13 9 129.6
2021 13 334 497 67.2 4,319 8.7 42 7 165.3
Career 52 1,045 1,674 62.4 12,303 7.3 81 32 136.3

 

Kenny Pickett attended the University of Pittsburgh. He also received reported scholarship offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina and Temple, according to 247Sports. He previously committed to Temple while in high school, according to the Asbury Park Press.

What kind of prospect was Kenny Pickett in high school?

According to Pickett's 247Sports recruiting profile, he was a 3-star recruit ranked No. 738 nationally, per the 247Sports Composite rankings. He played at Ocean Township (N.J.) High School, where he was the No. 21 high school prospect in the state in the 2017 high school graduating class.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Pickett earned New Jersey's Class B North recognition from the division's coaches.

What was Kenny Pickett's record in college?

In the 52 games Pickett played in college, Pitt went 32-20, including 11-2 in his 13 appearances in the 2021 season, which the Panthers capped off with an ACC Championship.

What were some of Kenny Pickett's best games in college?

Here are some of Pickett's most notable performances in college:

Nov. 24, 2017 | Pittsburgh 24, No. 2 Miami 14

Making his first career start, the true freshman quarterback who was once an option to be a redshirt player in 2017 instead led the Panthers to an upset of the Miami Hurricanes, which were ranked No. 2 and undefeated, putting them in prime position for the College Football Playoff. Pickett had a hand in all three of Pitt's touchdowns, running for scores of six and 22 yards, and throwing a shovel pass to running back Qadree Ollison for a score. Pickett completed 18 of his 29 attempts for 193 yards and the one score, while rushing for 60 yards.

Nov. 17, 2018 | Pittsburgh 34, Wake Forest 13

In the 15th game of his college career, Pickett broke the 300-yard mark for the first time, completing 23 of his 30 attempts for 316 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Wake Forest. He had only cracked the 200-yard threshold once in his first 14 games and twice previously in his sophomore season, he had been held to less than 100 yards, so this performance was a breakthrough game for the Pitt quarterback.

Dec. 26, 2019 (Quick Lane Bowl) | Pittsburgh 34, Eastern Michigan 30

In the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl, Eastern Michigan jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead over Pitt before the Panthers scored 17 points in the second quarter and in the fourth quarter, Pickett led them on a game-winning touchdown drive that was capped off with a 25-yard touchdown to Taysir Mack. Pickett finished the game with 361 passing yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 9.3 yards per attempt.

Oct. 23, 2021 | Pittsburgh 27, Clemson 17

In Pickett's first game against Clemson in 2018, the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers' defense held him to just eight passing yards on 4-of-16 passing. In his second game against Clemson in 2020, he threw four interceptions in a 35-point loss. But in Pickett's third and final game against Clemson, he led Pitt to a 10-point win, completing 25 of 39 passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Dec. 4, 2021 | Pittsburgh 45, Wake Forest 21

In the 52nd and final game of his career, Kenny Pickett threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for a 58-yard touchdown in the first quarter thanks to a nifty fake slide, as Pittsburgh won the ACC Championship. Pitt scored the final 31 points in the game.

What is 'the Kenny Pickett rule'?

In the 2021 ACC Championship Game against Wake Forest, Pitt received the opening kickoff and on 3rd-and-5 from Pitt's 42-yard line, Pickett dropped back to pass before he took off for what would be a 58-yard touchdown run in which he ingeniously and creatively faked a quarterback slide around Wake Forest's 40-yard line, which froze three Demon Deacons defenders, who assumed Pickett was giving himself up and settling for a first-down run just shy of 20 yards. However, Pickett didn't slide. He dragged his right foot, and kept his momentum going, as he got the edge and ran for an opening-drive touchdown.

The play was controversial to some officials and coaches because defenders are often taught to let up when they see a quarterback intending to slide. As longtime official Terry McAulay noted on Twitter, Rule 4-1-3 states, in part, "Any time a ball carrier begins, simulates, or fakes a feet-first slide, the ball should be declared dead by the on field officials at that point. The intent of the rule is player safety, and the objective is to give a ball carrier an option to end the play by sliding feet first and to avoid contact." On April 21, 2022, the NCAA announced what is colloquially known as "the Kenny Pickett rule" had been approved: "If a ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, officials will declare the runner down at that spot."

What did people say about Kenny Pickett?

The AP, on the status of Pittsburgh's quarterback battle in October 2017: "At the beginning of the season (Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi) kept shuttling between Max Browne and Ben DiNucci. With Browne now out for year with a right shoulder injury, DiNucci now finds himself splitting snaps with true freshman Kenny Pickett, an arrangement Narduzzi will keep in place until someone — anyone — lays claim to the starting spot for good."

Asbury Park Press columnist Steve Edelson after Pitt beat No. 2 and previously undefeated Miami in November 2017: "And on Friday afternoon, the rest of the football universe found out what everyone at Albert Carrelli Field, and throughout the Shore Conference, has known since Pickett took over as Ocean's starting quarterback as a sophomore. Because when Pickett, a true freshman, made the first start of his career for Pittsburgh against No. 2 Miami, he scrambled the FBS playoff picture by knocking off the previously unbeaten Hurricanes. Pickett's poise and athleticism proved to be just what the Panthers needed. He ran for a pair of touchdowns, including a 22-yard scamper on a fourth-down naked bootleg, and threw for another score, a 6-yard shovel pass in the final minute of the second quarter that put the Panthers up 10-7 at halftime. In all, Pickett completed 18 of 29 passes for 193 yards, while rushing for a team-high 60 yards."

Ocean Township head coach Don Klein, after Pitt's win over Miami (courtesy of the Asbury Park Press): "He's so talented, and has that confidence and moxie, and you saw that stage was not too big for him. He owned it, and that's rare for a freshman."

The AP's Will Graves, after Pitt's win over Miami: "An offense that spent much of the fall searching for an identity found one — and a future in the process — in quarterback Kenny Pickett."

Narduzzi, after Pitt's win over Miami (courtesy of the AP): "Kenny Pickett played lights out."

The AP's Will Graves after Pitt's season-opening win over Albany in 2018: "For all of sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett's precocious talent, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi is quick to issue a reminder that in terms of Pickett's career, he's just 'a baby.' Maybe, but Pickett is growing up quickly. Narduzzi believes the rest of his team is too."

Pittsburgh defensive back Dennis Briggs in November 2018 (courtesy of the Asbury Park Press): "His development has been fun to watch. He's always been a locker room leader. That's something that comes naturally to him. It's something that translates out on the field. The offensive huddle is an intimate setting. I can tell in guys' eyes they trust what he says when they're out there on the field. That's a great thing for our program to really trust a guy that's out there going to battle every single day. I'm excited for him. He's been developing at a really fast pace. He's just going to continue to grow. It's been really fun to watch him."

Briggs, recalling a time when Pickett spun away from him in practice while on the scout team (courtesy of the Citizens' Voice): "Almost broke my ankles. I'm like, 'Who is this dude?'"

Then-Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables in November 2018 (courtesy of the Citizens' Voice): "Pickett, he's a good football player. He's tough, he's instinctive. Throws a good ball. He's a mobile guy. Plays with a good edge to him, very competitive. Don't know him from Adam, but you can tell all those things from tape. Just kind of a baller."

Then-Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker (courtesy of the South Florida Sun Sentinel): "Their quarterback has a really strong arm, can make any throw on the field."

The AP's Will Graves after Pitt beat UCF in September 2019: "Running back A.J. Davis took a direct snap from center, ran to his left and flipped the ball to Aaron Mathews, who was heading right. Mathews, a former high school quarterback, thought he might have to make a run at the pylon. When two UCF defenders closed in, Mathews pulled up and found quarterback Kenny Pickett in the end zone, giving the Panthers a euphoric 35-34 victory. 'Kenny claims he has the best hands on the team,' Mathews said with a smile. 'He's one for one.'"

The Greenville News' Todd Shanesy in October 2021: "Pitt fifth-year senior quarterback Kenny Pickett has put himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation. He's only 64 passing yards short of 2,000 already this season with 21 touchdowns and just one interception. In two career games against Clemson, though, he's been awful. Pickett threw for a combined 217 yards (less than 4 yards per completion) with seven turnovers and nine sacks. He was a miserable 4-for-16 for 8 yards in the 2018 ACC championship game. The key has been constant blitzes. The Tigers came from every angle and had him completely out of sync. But this is a much more mature Kenny Pickett, a quarterback who Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables compared favorably to Joe Burrow, who while at LSU carved up the Tigers in the national championship game of the 2019 season. '(Pickett is) a lot like Joe Burrow in experience and calmness and accuracy,' Venables said."

The Detroit Free Press' Chris Solari, before Pickett opted out of the Peach Bowl: "In Pickett, the Panthers have the ACC player of the year and a quarterback who broke Dan Marino's school record and the ACC record with his 42nd touchdown pass of the season Saturday, third in the nation this season. Pickett's 357.2 yards per game passing and 4,319 yards through the air both rank fifth in the country."

The AP's Aaron Beard: "Newly crowned Atlantic Coast Conference champion Pittsburgh headlines The Associated Press All-ACC teams and individual awards for the 2021 season. The 13th-ranked Panthers had a league-best seven selections in results released Monday after voting by 14 sports writers who cover the conference. That list included quarterback Kenny Pickett as the unanimous choice for offensive player of the year."

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